January 2008

  • Cover Page
  • Map of Trip-2006.
  • Map of Trip-2008.
  • Map of Trip-2009.
  • Map of Trip-2010.

  • Leaving Again
    Camper Trailer built, van resheeted and our leave approved. All systems are now go for our 3 year adventure.The final few months of 2007 did not improve greatly, with what seemed like a million last minute jobs to be attended to, but we did manage to finally get out of the house and 'On the Road' at last. Arranging a big trip like ours is a lot of work and takes a bucket load of organising. It's a bit like planning for a wedding. After the event you look back and wonder why it all took so long!!

    For both Chris and myself our last day at school was mixed emotions of excitement and sadness. We were both spoilt with gifts and good wishes and are both very lucky to work with such great people, all of whom we will miss.

    Now this might sound a little odd but we still have the occasional 'Are we doing the right thing?' thoughts (a bit late now for that I guess). The fact that I had to give up my position at school was probably the hardest to swallow but these are the sacrifices you have to make to fullfill a dream. The boys remain as 'Keen' as mustard and can't wait for the adventure to begin.Where we are or what we are doing really is irrelevant, as long as we are having fun, doing something different, learning something new and doing it together as a family.

    As our house in Buss St. was rented at the beginning of December, we shifted back into the Joiners driveway for the last week of school (which we seem to be making a habit of, thanks again guys!!) before heading off to the Sunshine Coast for our 3 weeks at Pincushion Caravan Park. Now let me tell you that Sunshine Coast it was not. The weather was mega crap, with every day being wet, windy (in 'fact bloody windy) and wet (did I mention that??). We still had a great time but a summer beach holiday it was not. The usual crew were there and as per usual we had heaps of laughs. Jim and Jenny and Trevor and Desley continued to spoil the boys and they really make this holiday special for us all. Having the Coombes opposite really tops it off. Kelvin and I have at least daily shopping trips to anywhere and everywhere and I take great pleasure in helping Kelvin spend his hard earned cash. To make him feel better I also spend a little as well. It was good to catch up with Bruce, Michelle and Aaron again and Alex loved going for a hoot in Aaron's racing rubber boat. The speed of this thing and it's ability to turn on a dime is amazing. The Nyes were again behind us, or at least Wendy was, as poor old David spent more time at work than he did at the van.

    Pop and the boys Nanny and the Boys nic and Zac and the boys Harry and Zac The rubber racing Boat The rubber racing Boat The rubber racing Boat The rubber racing Boat The rubber racing Boat

    As has become the tradition at Pincushion, Christmas lights became the centre of attention. It has become a bit of a tongue in cheek competition between us all, and although everybody swears they will not buy anymore lights, we all manage to pick up a few "can't pass up bargains". Our main purchase this year was a big blow- up rotating carousel.  Every night we have literally hundreds walking past and admiring our street. The boys get dressed up in their Santa suits and hand out lollies to all the kids. This really is a great atmosphere and one that you could get at no other place other than a caravan park.

    Christmas itself was lovely. After Santa's visit and the excitement  upon waking, we spent the morning with my mum and Stuart, then had Chris's mum and our nephews from the Gold Coast for lunch (and for a couple of days), as well as all the gang from the park. We all had a ball!!

    The Lights More Lights

    After our 3 weeks on the "Rainshine Coast" it was back to Bundaberg for a week before setting off to Burrum Heads for a week. For our week back in Bundy we house sat for the Joiners which was great. Our first few days back in town were hot and sunny, but alas Joiner's pool was green. By the time I got the pool clear again it had started raining, and continued to rain until we left. I spent most of the week doing jobs at the Elliott Heads house as we have just had new tenants shift in, so there was all those between tenant jobs to be done. It all worked out really well except for the continued rain that somewhat hampered my progress.

    Saturday 12th actually had blue skies. How exciting. We quickly did a few loads of washing at the Joiners, which we actually got to dry before heading off to Burrum Heads. Now this week has become a very longstanding tradition. These are people that I worked with back in the early 80's on the Gold Coast, who we have stayed very good friends with over all these years. There are four other families and we have now been coming here for this week for over 12 years. It is an amazing situation because we never see each other during the year and rarely even talk, but as soon as we all get together it is like we see each other all the time. The kids all get on beautifully and for a week we only see them when they are hungry. In fact we have been coming so long that some of the kids that started out in nappies are now finishing grade 12 and planning to go off to Uni. It's enough to make you feel a little old.

    Burrum Heads Foreshore Burrum Burrum

    The Council Caravan Park at Burrum is one of the best we have seen in our whole trip around Oz (Burrum is about 15 minutes north of Hervey Bay). It is absolutely on the Burrum River, facing north overlooking the river mouth and moored yachts. There are shops directly opposite with a great butcher and bakery as well as a general store, and a pub around the corner if needed. Burrum Heads is not very big, although growing rapidly and has a great walking path that follows the river for a couple of kms. If you are passing through this way put it on your must stay list. Unfortunately getting a waterfront site like we have is getting harder and harder but you can still see the water from many of the other sites and everbody can use the foreshore area.

    So our week seemed to come to an end very rapidly. Except for a couple of rainy days the weather was fairly kind to us, be it a little overcast most the time. Unfortunately we will most likely not see these guys now for a few years as we plan to be in Tassie this time next year so will miss the traditional get together.

    Ready to leave
    Now we are starting to feel like the trip is about to begin. It was back to Bundaberg for what we thought would be a few days that ended up being 6 nights swapping all the gear over from the caravan to the camper trailer, as well as finishing off yet more jobs at Elloitt Heads. It was starting to look likely that some of the extensive floods could hamper our progress into the NT. Our first obstacle was to get past Rockhampton before the Fitzroy River burst its banks and had us stranded before we left. Our first night saw us set up camp at Benaraby, just near the Gladstone turnoff, on the recommendation of the Joiners (it doesn't matter what I say about them, they never read the web page - they don't know what they are missing out on!!) This is a great park with first class facilities, with it's major downside being that it is attatched to a large roadhouse that every truck driver in Australia must stop at. If you are unaware of exactly how many trucks a night traverse these roads, well let us tell you. Shit loads and we heard every one of them. It would be fine in a fully insulated caravan but in a 'tent on wheels', that's another story.

    Next day it was a pleasant drive to Mackay to stay with some great friends. Many, many years ago, in fact back in 1977 I lived in Mackay for over 3 years. It was then I became mates with Greg and have been the best of friends since. He has a beautiful family, Mozzie, his long suffering wife and the 5 kids. We stayed with them for 5 nights and were made to feel like part of the family. These are special people that will always have a special place in my heart.
    It has been a few years since our last visit to mackay and we were really surprised by the massive growth of this area. Shopping complex after shopping complex! The development at the Harbour is unbelievable, with at least 10 new highrise apartment blocks, coffee shops, restuarants and magnificently manicured gardens with tables and barbeques along the foreshore. The trip from town to the beachside village of Bucasia, which is where I used to live, is no longer a trip through cane fields, but now a trip through suburbia and endless new developments. Maybe it is progress, but I liked it more the way it used to be.

    Harry and the Truck
    Considering we were there for nearly a week, we really didn't do much. The highlight of the visit for Harry was when Greg took him for a spin in one of his semi's. Harry looked so funny perched up there in this huge cab, with a grin wider than the Bruce Highway.  We had a look around town while I reminisced, did a bit of last minute shopping (bought a new camping chair) and did a day trip to Finch Hatton Gorge and  Eungulla. We actually went out there because they had recently had lots of rain (13 inches in 4 hours) and we wanted to see the Gorge with plenty of water in it. Well after the 50 km drive we were within 5 kms of the gorge and the "Road Closed" sign loomed in the distance. No way, so through I drove. The first water crossing was a little deep and the road was in a very bad state but the Nissan was triumphant. Around the last corner we go like naughty little school children who are wagging and who should we run into??!! No, not the Principal, worse, the Park Ranger. Thinking we would be expelled, we gingerly made our way over to him, and what did he say, bloody nothing except "Enjoy the falls, you don't see them like this all the time". Phew!!

    The road from Finch Hatton to Eungulla is very steep and windy. It was the middle of the day when we arrived up there and not a good time to go platypus viewing but being the eternal optimists, off we went. Now if you want to get up close and personal with one of the elusive creatures you need to be very lucky, very quiet and be there early in the morning or late in the afternoon. As we arrived midday, and as we are not overly quiet the only thing we had going for us was the luck component.

    And guess what? As we were standing on the viewing platform out came a platyapus (be it a little one) that swam around giving us a private performance for about 10 minutes. This was the first one the boys have seen well (they did see a ripple in the water caused by one at Canarvon Gorge years ago) and only about the second time for Chris and myself. After being natured out, it was a visit to the pub to enjoy the view of the valley towards the coast. I would love to be there when those crazy men (surely women would not be so stupid) and their flying machines run off the launching ramp and hang glide all the way to the bottom of the valley below. Must put that on my ever growing list of  "Must Do's" (No, view only, NOT jump).

    Finch Hatton Gorge Platypus at Eungulla

    Australia Day was spent at 'Dolphin Heads Resort' at Eimeo with the Pierpoints and some friends of theirs, lazing around the pool, having a few beers over lunch and a few laughs. A great way to celebrate living in one of the best countries this world has to offer.

    For our 5 nights we stayed in the airconditioned office in the house with ensuite attached. While it was certainly not the camper trailer, we suffered in silence and made the best of the situation!!!!

    Finally they got rid of  us and we headed for Townsville to bludge off more friends. The 4 hour trip was horrid. The rain (if that is what you call a million litres of water being dumped on your windscreen) started 5 minutes after we left Mackay and followed us all the way. At least 3 times we had to pull over due to ZERO visibility and sit in a hot steamy and foggy car (because I was too tight to leave the engine running) until it eased slightly. No fun, let me tell you.
     In Townsville we stayed with Greg and Jos and their 2 big kids. We first met Greg and Jos on our honeymoon back many, many moons ago and spent our 10th wedding anniversary with them in Bali. They are heaps of fun and great hosts. We again had to suffer an airconditioned house (at least until 2am, when Jos turns it off for some reason) which was good as it was quite wet while we were there. We had the car serviced and took the kids to the water park at the Strand, and are not really sure what else we did, but it took all day.

    The Strand- Townsville The Strand- Townsville The Strand- Townsville

    Well, that is it for January 2008. Our journey has just begun, after all the planning. All is going very well. The camper tows nicely and it is is easy to forget it is even there. Our fuel ecomomy is only marginally better than with the van, which is a little surprising or should I say disappointing, but then again it is fairly heavy, and we do have a lot on the roof causing a bit of wind resistance. As we are hoping to be in Darwin within a week or so, the next leg of the journey will be mainly driving.

    Stay tuned for February 2008

    If your not living life on the edge, you are taking up too much space